Human Rights

Forced abortion in China: one couple’s tragic story

Embryotomy-abortion-Scissors

On September 22, 2011, there was a hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. This House of Representatives hearing was chaired by Chris Smith, a pro-life senator from New Jersey. The topic was forced abortion in China.

There were many heartbreaking testimonies given at this hearing. I will highlight one of them.

Ji Yequig and her husband had a daughter, and when she found herself pregnant again in 2003, she initially wanted to keep the baby. In her own words, she and her husband were “very happy.” Her pregnancy was discovered at the Jiading District Women and Children’s Clinic, which informed the Family Planning Commission. They wasted no time. The day after her checkup, they paid her a visit.

Li Chunping of the Family Planning Commission and 3 other agents came to our home and told me that, according to China’s one child policy, we could not have a second child. … I had no choice but to undergo an abortion [they said]; otherwise, we would be sabotaging the family planning policy and breaking the law. Not only would we be fined 200,000 yuan, equivalent to $31,300, which was more than 3 times our combined annual income, but also, we would be fired from our jobs. We were very afraid at the time of losing our jobs. We could never acquire enough money to pay the exorbitant fines.

The couple gave in and submitted to an abortion. Ji Yequig was ordered to have an IUD inserted. However, concerned about the health risks, she instead continued taking birth control pills.

Ji Yequig’s in-laws began encouraging the couple to have a second baby, hoping for a son. The family decided together that having a second child would be worth paying the exorbitant fines,  and Ji Yequig became was pregnant again. However:

After my checkup at the hospital, like the previous time, the Family Planning Commission learned of it the very next day. We had known of the close cooperation between the clinic and the local birth planning agencies, so we expected this. But there was only one licensed hospital in the area, so we had no choice but to go there for checkups. Two days after my visit to the hospital, Li Chunping and five other agents came to our home to ask why I had not had the IUD inserted and why I had decided to get pregnant again. I told them that I wanted another child and we were prepared to pay the fines. Li stated that Chinese law decreed that the second child was forbidden. Even if it was born, the child could not be registered and would not be able to attend school. More than the fine, we would be fired from our jobs with a child that would never be registered by the census. We were willing to take the punishment of fines and losing our jobs. It wasn’t as important to us as our child.

What happened next shows the true face of the Chinese one child policy.  Ji Yequig had never had  a choice.

Li then ordered the other agents to bring me to the hospital for an abortion. They surrounded us. Li and two others grabbed me by the arm and dragged me outside. Two others stopped my husband Liu Bin from rescuing me and beat him. I begged them to spare us. We only wanted another baby and never wanted to do anything evil. … I also said we were willing and prepared to pay the fines. I kept begging them in tears, but it was no use. … I couldn’t free myself, although I struggled all the way. They dragged me down from the fourth floor into a waiting car, drove to the Jiading Women and Children’s Clinic, and pulled me directly into the operating room. They held me down and sedated me. The abortion was performed while I was unconscious. When I came to, I was already in the recovery room outside the operating room. Doctors told me they had installed the IUD immediately after the abortion… the intrauterine device was installed in me against my will while I was lying unconscious, completely unaware. After the abortion, I felt empty, as if something was scooped out of me. My husband and I had been so excited for a new baby. Now, suddenly, all that hope and joy and excitement had disappeared, all in an instant. I was very depressed and despondent for a long time. Whenever I thought about my lost child, I would cry.

Ji Yequig’s marriage broke up soon afterward, a casualty of the emotional trauma caused by her forced abortions.

Forced abortion in China is a tragic reality. Ji Yequig’s story is only one of many.

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